Thursday 31 October 2013

Mercury Prize 2013 James Blake

Music is a big part of my life and I always look to see what comes up in the Mercury Prize short list.  James Blake won last night and he is a big favourite of mine, his music takes me to an emotional place.  Its not for everybody, its not the most commercial sound but he is a genuine artist and creative talent.   I love  his music with an intensity and he is a joy to watch as he recreates this track, Retrograde, live - you can see him record the loop that runs throughout right at the start of the film.    Congrats to James Blake, well deserved.

and another version of the same song, although a little different, hoping this works for you USA folks x

sib blog

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Betsey Johnson 4089 Swishy Skirt

 This skirt has been on my 'to do' list forever.  A 1970s vintage wrap around maxi skirt with extra details designed by Betsey Johnson, Butterick 4089.  Once I saw Roo's version here, I was totally smitten.
Betsey Johnson has had her ups and downs over the years, including bankruptcy but she is still designing. Her heyday was definitely the 1970s.  You can read more about her and other Butterick designers from 60s and 70s at Fuzzy Lizzies .  There don't seem to be so many designer partnerships with bigger pattern companies, especially up and coming designers although I do enjoy Cynthia Rowley's patterns for Simplicity and I guess these days, indie pattern designers represent the new direction of clothing patterns.  The joy of these vintage patterns is the details are so well executed and the finished garment looks exactly like the drawing (although my leg length has some way to go to match the model).  Such vintage patterns are much sort after- I think I paid £10 including postage for this one which is pretty good and it was uncut, but more popular styles go for £20 upwards. 
I needed to size up my pattern- the waist was 25 1/2" and I am 27" so I added 1"on the centre front and centre of the back pieces.  You can read more about resizing vintage patterns here and more here- it is more straightforward than you may think.  Something to bear in mind with any pattern is that traditionally all patterns start off size 12 (USA 8, EU40).  See conversion for different countries' sizing here.  Pattern sizing is not like shop ready to wear clothing which is often vanity sized- you know the sort of thing- a size 12 in Fat Face is not equal to size 12 in Topshop, and indie sewing pattern designers tend to have their own individual sizing which often refelcts the pattern designers body shape.  Colette patterns have a bust cup size C, Sewaholic patterns tend to have a smaller bust and larger hip in the same size.  All patterns start off at a size 12 and this is a small 12 in the way we would think of it.  The subsequent sizes are drafted off this standard upwards and downwards.  It does mean that the sizes that are more than two jumps up or down from a 12 risk losing something in translation and the pattern companies should make extra tweaks to make sure all the details still work and fit is maintained. 
I digress, this was a dream to make.  I used chambray from Merchant and Mills which has a lovely handle and the drape essential in such a style.  The wrap round involved two mirror image whole back sections so there is no danger of flashing and the double layer adds warmth. It does take a lot of fabric because you are effectively doubling up for the back piece- I needed almost 3 metres.  
I do love a long skirt.  I hate tights/pantyhose and I don't get on brilliantly with leggings plus I love the romance and freedom of a long swishy striding skirt.  I opted for a length inbetween the shorter and longer styles on the pattern pieces.  The shaped high waist at the front is interfaced as are the ties that are round the waist- but the parts that finish as a bow are not interfaced so the bow is soft and flops nicely at the front.   The pockets are functional although as they are stitched to the front you wouldn't want to over fill them and look like you are wearing saddle bags. All these little details add up to a garment to be very happy with. 
I followed the top stitching as directed in the pattern and used Sulky Cotton 30 which is cotton, has a silky finish and is thicker than the standard dressmaking Sew-All gutermann.  There is a lot of top stitching, I used a full bobbin and the acufeed foot which I always use for large areas of top stitching as it makes the fabric feed through so evenly.
For the buttonhole which allows the ties to wrap around without bulk I wanted to try a simple bound method as I thought a standard buttonhole would fray and gape too much.  You can find the method here although I used the trusty Reader's Digest  Complete Guide to Sewing
It went pretty well.  I did have a slight freak out moment as the buttonhole is made on one part of the waistband- once I joined it to the facing which sits on the inside I realised the buttonhole was closed at the back.  This is normal, you have to finish the facing separately.  Its been so long since I've done a bound buttonhole I had completely forgotten.  Panic over.

 I always use Fray Stoppa/Fray check on buttonholes- just a little painted on the area that will be cut. allowed to dry and then cut through.  The Clover double fork pins are also a boon for dress making in areas that you don't want to shift, not even a tiny bit.  Penny put me on to these and I am forever grateful.  I bought mine from ebay, pricey but worth it.
This is another Betsey Johnson pattern in my stash, I am thinking about a shirt although the pattern pieces look pretty tiny and there is a little work to do to get them up to size so that I could at least move my arms!  And when I want to really be inspired by a little vintage, I go back and visit Gold Country Girls blog and there three part section on Betsey Johnson for Butterick- one, two, three.  
I think I need to wipe a little drool from my chin, those styles slay me every time.  Feel free to share your thoughts on sizing and vintage styles, or tell me your favourites, I'd love to find something new to love.
sib blog

Monday 28 October 2013

October at Saints and Pinners

It's half term week over much of the UK at the moment so I was thinking of activities on my visit to Saints and Pinners for this month- remember 20% discount automatically taken off all purchases over £10.  With Halloween, Nov 5th and Christmas prep all coming up, my eye was drawn to the beautiful Nancy Nicholson decoration kits, sphere baubles

Little City, 10 buildings and 6 tree pack
And the beautiful bird tapestry kit which comes with fabric to make a sampler book to learn and practice the different  stitches used in the tapestry
That little journey lead me to animal fabric, Zoo Menagerie- Lions
and then on to Cloud 9, Pod
Cloud 9 Pearl which I have never noticed before and really like!
and if you feel like a bit of everything, scrap rolls in mixed coloursand yellow/orange, pink/red and green/blue
Happy half-term if you are busy keeping the troops busy x  
sib blog

Friday 25 October 2013

500 Quilt Blocks on sale here!

You can now buy 500 Quilt Blocks direct from me here and it will be sent 2nd class complete with a free bookplate.

There are three cover options-
1. Softback £8 (far left in photo)
2. Hardback with blue cover £10 (middle in photo),
3. Hardback with green cover £10 (far right)
Plus p+p £2 for either option, UK only.  Each book includes a free book plate sticker.  These are signed by both Lynne and I, measure 35mm x 54mm and were printed by Moo.  Colours selection will be random.
You can also buy a sticker for a copy of 500 Quilt Blocks that you have purchased elsewhere and have it sent anywhere in the world- price includes postage.

Sent in UK £1.50
Sent to Europe £2.00
Sent World (USA, AUS etc) £2.50
You can email me- (click the envelope)  stating what you would like to buy and who you would like you sticker made out to.  I will email you back and payment can be paid directly by Paypal or I can invoice you via Paypal.  All the info is on a designated page  right here.  Thankyou!
sib blog

Monday 21 October 2013

October at Seamstar

I am just starting my Christmas gift prep and Alicia Paulson's seasonal ornament patterns are going to form a key part of this.
I've made one and I think I have at least seven more to go.  Alicia's patterns are delightful, I love the level of detail but don't expect to make them fast, they are a process to enjoy and labour over whilst adding those extra little details.  She recommends National Non Wovens felt.  I have used this for Maggie Rabbit and it is wonderful stuff but it is hard to get hold of and it is expensive.  For these ornaments, I took a look at Courtney's felt selection at Seamstar.  It is a little thinner but still very pleasurable to work with and a soft supple mix of wool and viscose.  The bundle I chose was a mini roll of pastel.
 These are the colours with no filter taken on a sunny day.  Lovely 30s style shades.  She sells seasonal bundles too.  I was very tempted by Berries as I thought is would also make pretty winter coat decorations.
And Autumn has great leaf and tree colours.
Halloween could be what you need for Autumn
Christmas Lights is very pretty with the addition of pink
Christmas Day has a traditional colour palette
There are some lovely fabric hampers which combine felt with fabrics and trim.  This is called Modern selection with Lotta Jansdotta fabrics.
And here is another, Quirky, if you want some colour that packs a bit more punch.
Courtney has continued to add more links to the website and there are great projects including Christmas decorations and a Christmas Stocking on her shop blog. 
sib blog

500 Quilt Blocks Flickr Group

Much excitement last week for Lynne and I as 500 Quilt Blocks: The Only Quilt Block Compendium You'll Ever Need went on sale and we started seeing copies via Instagram in the UK, USA and Australia.  Some pretty emotional moments for us, each time we see a copy in the wild and someone has shared a pic, and now as people dive in and choose a block or a project from the book and show us how they got on,  proud only starts to describe it.
We had a little nudge (thankyou Catherine I don't know why we hadn' thought of it!) to start a Flickr group to showcase your blocks and projects so come join us and if you are on Instagram and you post a 500 Quilt Blocks pic, tag your photo with #500quiltblocks and then we can see all the pics in one easy search.  The same thing works on Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.  You know Lynne and I will squeal every time, this is a novelty that won't wear off!  Still awaiting our copies to sell, I am waiting impatiently...
sib blog

Thursday 17 October 2013

Eternal Maker October- Little House Playmat

For October's visit to Eternal Maker, I have been looking forward to posting about their Little House Playmat project which is a week by week project in 5 instalments.
 I love all things 'house themed and I love this!   It is measures around 60 x 80cm  closed and would make a wonderful gift, a little different from a baby quilt!
 All the materials are listed in the project posts on the Eternal Maker blog, including the amazing Kokka house panel fabric which forms the inside:
They also list the other fabrics e.g. brick style for the front and interfacing/waddings that they stock to make the playmat but as ever there is room for creativity and some other prints and fabrics.  Here are a few ideas.
Wood effect fabric- for a nordic style house,   Michael Miller faux bois in grey
Clouds by Cosmo, a canvas cotton fabric
A drying room?  One of my favourite Heather Ross prints, Clothes line by Kokka
A toy room with house within houses, Cosmo Panda stripe
Friends to play and dressing up, Ann Kelle's Kids Adventure for Kaufman
And wall decor, Echino Frames
Tempting isn't it?  And Christmas making time is upon us!  Keep an eye on Eternal Maker blog for the next instalment. 
sib blog